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Govt to appeal court ruling declaring level 3, 4 regulations invalid

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said that government would appeal the North Gauteng High Court ruling and said that this appeal must be heard on an urgent basis.

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu at a post-Cabinet briefing on 8 August 2019. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said that Cabinet had decided to appeal a High Court judgment that declared the level 3 and 4 lockdown regulations as invalid and unconstitutional.

Mthembu was briefing the media on the outcomes of the Cabinet meeting.

Minister Mthembu said that Cabinet had reflected on the high court judgment and said: “We are of the view that another court might come to a different conclusion.”

The court ruled that the regulations under levels 3 and 4 of the national lockdown, as set out by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, had encroached on the rights protected by the Constitution.

Government has 14 days to review, amend, and republish the lockdown regulations, taking into account the Bill of Rights and South Africans’ constitutional rights.

Mthembu said that government would appeal the North Gauteng High Court ruling and said that this appeal must be heard on an urgent basis.

He said this appeal would be led by Dlamini-Zuma, who would be joined by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

“Government will ask that its appeal be heard on an urgent basis so that all of us can obtain certainty on the regulations. The minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs will be joined in this appeal by President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize.

"In our view, those regulations served a particular purpose and were within the framework of our National Disaster Management Act. So, we don’t believe any other court will come to the same conclusion the North Gauteng High Court came to," he said.

The current regulations remain in force, he said.

EXTENSION OF STATE OF DISASTER

Cabinet has approved the extension of the national state of disaster by another month just days ahead of the expiry of the initial 90 days.

The Disaster Management Act dictates that the Minister of Cooperative Governance Dlamini-Zuma should, in consultation with Cabinet, extend the set three months if need be.

With mounting pressure for the government to get every letter of the law right following multiple legal challenges of the national lockdown, Cabinet is moving with speed to deal with several issues regarding the restrictions.

The approval of the extension of the national state of disaster by another month rubber stamps government’s continued lockdown which is regulated by legislation emanating from it.

Mthembu added that while the law prohibited government from extending the national state of disaster by another three months, they would extend it on a month-to-month basis if they were required to do so.

He said that these extensions would be based on scientific research.

THE FUTURE OF THE WESTERN CAPE?

As the Western Cape remains the epicentre of the coronavirus in South Africa with 23,583 cases, of which more than 10,000 of those are still active, questions have been asked on whether government will revert the province to level 5.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said that he wanted the Western Cape to be used as an example in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

“We must unite, use our protocols, and turn the situation around. I’m quite definite that we will be able to do so. And I want us to make sure the Western Cape is an example - where the numbers were kind of looking like they were getting out of control - but we were able to rein them in,” Mkhize said.

Mthembu said that he was not in a qualified position to answer about the future of the province but said the country was currently under level 3 of lockdown.

Government did, however, announce that the country’s hotspots throughout the country would be closely monitored and strict measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus.

_Additional reporting by Theto Mahlakoana _

WATCH: Mthembu holds post-Cabinet briefing